There are so many people to thank that, for the third year in a row, it’s a little overwhelming. I was, once more, blown away by the amount of kindness and support I received on this 1,050-km adventure.
The most common question I get asked is “Where is your support crew?” Typically, I’ll turn around quizzically as if they have just disappeared, then exclaim “Guess it’s just me!”
But of course that isn’t true. YOU are my support crew – My TGRR Heroes – who help me every year to make it to my goal.
Thank you for your part in helping to get world free of MND!
Simon, Sian, Izzy, Seb & Nessie the dog (Vickers)
Bill & Lisa Ridge
Big Bill was a fabulous host on Day 2. He ran with for the final few miles, brought Olly from the local running club – the Narberth Nobblers – to provide even more support, and put me up for the evening in his fabulous farm.
Thanks also to wife, Lisa who cooked up a spectacularly hearty pasta dish of which I was invited to continue helping myself to until I was fit to burst. I learnt a ton about farming, about raising puppies (of which there were eight for me to play with) and the pro and cons of different toilet options for a wedding.
Bill also dropped me back off at Narberth RFC in the morning to bring to a conclusion a fantastic visit. Thank you!
Lowri & Bob Davies
Lowri got wind of The Great Rugger Run and reached out to me to offer copious assistance. She and husband, Bob – who has MND himself – have raised a huge amount of money for MND causes (Motoron) in recent years and were keen to help support me.
In spite of a mix up in dates (I arrived a day earlier than expected!), Bob mobilised and got down to St Clears to pick me up with zero fuss. I absolutely loved his company, a well travelled man with plenty of stories to tell.
I stayed with them for two nights, they gave me lifts across the two days, fed me till I was as full as an egg and provided so much awesome company and support that it was honestly, a little overwhelming.
Bob (seated in 2nd photo) took it upon himself to get contacts from some of the clubs who hadn’t got back to me to rally some support, he joined me on my visits to several of them and Lowri ran with me for a huge portion of Day 4.
Thank you so much, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you both.
Kyle and Ryan Richards (and Mum too!)
Kyle (maroon shirt) was an absolute force of nature during my visit to Llanelli. He just drove the whole thing, which is so helpful when I’m exhausted – which is obviously fairly common during TGRR.
He started by meeting me at Burry Port and running with me to Llanelli Wanderers, providing navigation on the way – which is another great help – one less thing that I need to do, along with a tour of the Llanelli rugby landmarks.
He organised a fabulous welcome at Wanderers including getting a professional photographer to attend. I was treated to a Fish and Chip supper and a bed at Mother Richards house where I also got a load of support from both her and brother, Ryan.
Huge thanks to you all!
Jack and Emily Gronow
Andy & Julie Bevan and Billy the Dog
Pam heard of my need for a bed at very late notice but didn’t hesitate to volunteer immediately. She came to pick me up from Morriston RFC even though it was a fair distance from her home in The Mumbles.
We had a lovely chat on the way back and I got taken for a sunset stroll out to the magnificent headland. I really love it when my hosts are proud of where they live and share that with me.
A magnificent evening meal followed and it was a pleasure to hear all about Pam’s story and to tell her mine.
She dropped me back off at Morriston in the morning with a promise to assist with future events if I need it. Thank you Pam!
John stepped up to drive my bag from Morriston to Margam. It may seem like a very simple thing, but knowing my bag would be waiting for me at the end of the day is such a nice feeling.
Thank you John, and it was also great to chat with you on my arrival at Taibach RFC.
Alex was my Taibach mastermind. He organised everything for my visit, which started with him meeting me at Aberavon and running with me for the final few miles to Taibach.
However, 500m before my arrival I was met by a welcoming party of kids and parents who proceeded to sing the club song and then run with me the rest of the way – what an incredible welcome!
Alex was also instrumental in arranging my stay at the local hotel – The 12 Knights in Margam – Cheers, Alex!
Ciaran & Laura Burns and Betsy the Dog
Ciaran is an old club-mate of mine from back in London and I randomly bumped into him in a restaurant on Day 5 in Kidwelly. I joined him and his family for lunch that day and Ciaran offered help further along the route.
And help was required, so Ciaran picked my bag up from Margam, drove all the way up to the remarkable Tonyrefail RFC and then drove me back to his house after my longest, toughest day of this years run.
Laura and Betsy only added to the warmth of the welcome and we enjoyed a sumptuous late supper before I retired to the spare room, which in truth was more akin to a 5-star hotel. I did not want to leave.
Ciaran completed his incredible feats of generosity by sorting my laundry and driving me all the way back up to Tonyrefail the following day. So kind!
Thank you to all the Burns’s
Darrell & Ellen Williams
My visit started with a wonderful welcome at the Aberdare clubhouse where they helped me enjoy Ireland’s battering of England. Who knew there were so many Ireland supports in Wales?
Following the game Darrell did a wonderful job of presenting me to the club members, highlighting what I was doing and why. I was given the opportunity to sat a few words and gratefully received a ton of donations – thank you to all.
Back the house I was spoiled rotten with endless food and even a glass of wine. My attempts to help tidy up were thoroughly dismissed and I was ordered to enjoy the France vs Fiji game in the lounge.
I then had the honour of being the first patron of the Garden Guest Room and enjoyed a thoroughly peaceful nights sleep.
With my belly full of delicious brekkie, Darrell took me back to the club, gave a tour of the clubhouse and waved me off before driving my bag over to Forgeside.
Thanks so much – incredible hospitality!
Geraint was my man up in Forgeside. In fact, so helpful was he that I built my schedule around them to ensure I ended up there at the conclusion of Day 12.
He organised a running escort into town (see below) and a fantastic welcome party where we all enjoyed drinks and freshly-made stone-baked pizza by the side of the pitch. Yes, they have a pizza oven next to the pitch at Forgeside!
I was honoured to be asked to raise their Green Flag Award, which they earned for their incredible community garden. I was then given a quick tour of the clubhouse before being dropped at The Lion Hotel for the night.
Geraint even delayed the start of a family holiday to see me off in the morning – what an absolute gent!
Leighton Williams and his Dad!
Huge thanks to Leighton for running with me into Forgeside. He met me way back up on the main road and showed me the scenic route that was much easier on the feet and eyes.
And special thank to his Dad for driving my bag all the way to Blackwood the following day.
Bruce and Paula Penfold
Bruce met me at Blackwood RFC during the afternoon of Day 13 and was the perfect host during my visit. He picked me up at the end of my day from Abercarn RFC and drove me back to Blackwood.
I was given absolutely everything I needed to recover from my day including a shower, laundry and a beautiful dinner with warm conversations. It was a lovely evening and I slept like a stone.
In the morning I was dropped off back at Abercarn RFC and Bruce finished an incredible job of hosting me by driving my bag to Cardiff.
Thanks so much!
Angharad was a wonderful ally from the outset. Working within the Community Department of the WRU, she really appreciated the fact I was raising the profile of the community game in Wales.
I was lucky enough to meet her in person at Ebbw Vale RFC where she told me so much about the game in Wales and where things are moving forward. She also made me incredibly jealous as she tucked into a sensational looking Sunday Roast as I was leaving!
As thanks for my efforts, Angharad organised a night for me in The Parkgate Hotel – the WRU’s plush offering right next to the Principality Stadium. This was incredible but her support and assistance throughout my time in Wales was invaluable.
Huw & Penny Jones
Huw was an absolute ROCK STAR on this year’s Great Rugger Run. He first showed up by running with me from Pontyclun via his club – Llantrisantrfc to Tonyrefail on Day 10.
He then organised a cheering squad as I passed his family home near Lower Machen on Day 14. Such kindness.
But it didn’t end there. Huw ran with me the entirety of Day 15 from Cardiff to Newport – a tough old schleck of 43kms! There was so much time for chatting rugby, running and life. It was a hell of a day.
Penny picked us up from Newport RFC with a plethora of drinking and eating options for the ride home.
Back at the ranch I was given all the things I needed, a lovely warm welcome incredible food, laundry and a very comfy bed. Huw was also incredibly generous by gifting me a ton of stash (I love stash), which was gratefully received and Penny was also happy to have removed from the house 🙂
Huw dropped off again at Newport in the morning and I was once again on my way following a very solid man-hug.
Thank you so much!
Wonderful Nick answered my call at very late notice, appearing at Newport RFC to drive my bag all the way to Lydney. Always smiling, Nick a member of Chepstow Gold Touch Rugby Club even gifted me a club trucker cap – and what’s even more amazing was that it fit on the giant melon that is my head.
Volunteers were thin on the ground when I arrived in the Forest of Dean. Fortunately for me, Liz came to the rescue at very short notice.
In a bizarre coincidence, her son was playing in the game at Lydney RFC on the evening of my arrival, so it was a simple job to get picked up there. I was whisked back to their farm in Westbury and had an incredibly comfortable evening.
It was a pleasure getting to know Liz during our drives and over breakfast the following morning. Thanks for everything – including dropping my bag off at my next stop – which in another incredible coincidence happened to be be Liz’s neighbour – ALSO called Liz!
Liz, Graham and Tom Stephens
It’s a brave family that accepts a sweating, panting 40-something into their home, but that’s exactly what the Stephens’ did after I ran up their driveway having just finished my run at nearby Westbury-on-Severn RFC.
And I enjoyed a wonderfully warm welcome, a shower, clean clothes and an incredible dinner with serious rugby folk. We watched South Africa batter New Zealand and they even invited friend and Gloucester legend – Pete Miles – to come over and meet me.
A remarkable visit was completed by being told of a sheep that had been painted the colours of a bumble bee and was roaming free on the Westbury 2nd XV pitch! I mean, what the?!
Thanks to you all!
Supremely supportive Sara! Every now and again you meet someone who can’t do enough to help and Sara was one of those. She picked me up from Kingsholm, was an incredible host, filled me with delicious nutritious food and helped get all my kit clean.
We had a relaxing evening whilst watching the athletics and chatting all things Cheltenham Rugby – she had joined as physio the season after I’d left to move to London!
After a splendid full-english I was dropped back off at Kingsholm and Sara delivered my bag all the way to Cainscross that same evening. And if that wasn’t enough she even turned up to support the match on the final day.
What a superstar – thanks Sara!
I make no excuse for the amount of superlatives that are about to follow. Brace yourselves…
Aimee just got The GREAT RUGGER RUN. She understood how hard it was, not just to run, but to organise. She was incredibly supportive and helpful from a very early stage and her smart questions – which usually came with an apology and a “I don’t want to waste your time” – actually helped me fine tune my operations.
Then she – along with a sensational group of people at Cainscross RFC – came up with the idea of doing a Rugby Olympics for the kids to coincide with my visit. The kids all got score cards and were encouraged to get sponsored for completing the 10 events on the day which culminated in a competitive lap of the pitch.
It was magical!
This is grassroots rugby at it’s absolute best and despite having run 19 marathons in 19 days I couldn’t help but join in with the whole event.
As if that wasn’t enough, I was put up in the local pub, where they’d gained access to my room earlier in the day and left the kind of gift package that dreams are made of. All the drinks. All the snacks. All the blister plasters and pain relief.
Honestly, words aren’t enough. Thank you Aimee and all the Cainscross crew. Remarkable.
Mark was a big part of the incredible Cainscross Crew who organised the rugby olympics and he was kind enough to drive my bag all the way to Fairford at the end of the following day.
He was also kind enough to be patient while I tried to find him, having not given clear instructions of exactly where I’d be – The Great Rugger Run flies by the seat of it’s pants most days! Cheers Mark.
Peter, Niff, Molly & Harry Mason
Peter came to the rescue at very late notice and along with wife, Niff and kids Molly and Harry were incredible hosts. Picked up from Fairford Rugby club, taken back to the farm for all the essentials – shower, laundry, you know the drill by now.
However, I was also treated to a lap of the farm to check on all the animals – an everyday occurrence for Peter, but an incredibly fun half hour for me. The night finished with some home-made ice cream – the first batch from the recently acquired ice cream maker – what a treat.
Peter dropped me off in the morning and he and Harry also ran with me to get me going on my way to stow. Thank you The Mason’s!
George is one of those types of people that every rugby club has. You know the person – the one who does all the jobs that no-one else wants to with minimal fuss and complete dedication.
George drove my bag from Fairford to Stow. Thanks for that, George. And thanks for everything you do for your rugby club.
Jamie & Jo Gibbs
Kevin & Meryl Falvey
Kevin was an absolute bustling ball of energy from start to finish. I met him in Evesham where he’d come to pick up my bag and I loved his energy immediately – clearly a mover and shaker.
I arrived on his and Meryl’s doorstep much later that day an exhausted and throughly soaked mess. I was welcomed in, dried out and fed up with Welsh cakes! It was a complete throw-back to the early days of this trip when I ate Welsh cakes every day – Kevin and Meryl are from The Bont!
I was then guest of honour at Bredon Rugby club – they had rearranged all the training for the week to coincide with my visit – how incredibly generous! I watched some training, met the club characters, was given a huge feed, then Kevin made an incredible speech and presented me with a Bredon club tie and Coin.
Bredon RFC is home to another former teammate of mine who has sadly been hit by MND – Tim Meadows. He wasn’t well enough to attend but I did get to meet several members of his close family. Thinking of you, Tim.
I slept like a stone. Was refuelled by an awesome breakfast and waved on my way before Kevin drove my bag all the way to Cheltenham.
Thank you Kevin, thank you Meryl and thank you to everyone at Bredon RFC.